“Sharon has wiped out two decades of peace efforts by provoking war with the Palestinians and ordering military actions aimed at crippling Arafat as a leader. Ariel Sharon wants war. He has left no doubt about that.”
Rudolf Augstein, one of Germany’s best-known journalists, Der Spiegel, Dec.17, 2001
Death was waiting for five Palestinian boys as they played in their own backyard near an illegal Israeli settlement. Were these deaths of November 23rd, 2001, not an Israeli act of murder as certainly as those resulting from a Palestinian suicide bomber on December 2nd? These five children, ages 4-14, Palestinian refugees who lived in a camp in Gaza, tripped a land mine that had been set by the Israeli Defense Force. The trap was intended for any living thing entering through that particular Palestinian field because the field borders an Israeli settlement. Unfortunately, booby traps can’t read hearts and intentions. Booby traps can’t differentiate between children and adults, men and women, the innocent and the guilty.
This act of premeditated Israeli murder was one of many such tragedies to beset the people of Palestine in the occupied territories before and since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada. Not having or choosing to have access to the facts on the ground in the Middle East, many people in the U.S. genuinely believe the intifada is a consequence of the horror of mutual transgressions, or, even worse, part of a Palestinian attempt to “throw Israel into the sea,” or the use of children by their parents to fight a war of terrorism. The fact is, the intifada is a spontaneous and natural response to Israeli aggression which has been and continues to be a severe, life threatening, and non-exclusive Israeli policy directed at all Palestinians. This aggression has been even worse under the leadership of Ariel Sharon.
The intifada was immediately preceded by Sharon’s having entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound accompanied by 1,000 Israeli police, military, and special security forces. This sacrilegious entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to all 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, was an obvious act committed to further Sharon’s political ambitions. And, it occurred during the Camp David negotiations when Barak, then Israel’s Prime Minister, made his offer which, to those in the United States, was described as “generous,” but which Palestinians knew would leave them with but two percent of original Palestine, 20 percent of which had been divided to them by the United Nations, and would have left them with a State without any viability whatsoever. Had Chairman Arafat accepted Barak’s plan, Palestinian rights to East Jerusalem would have been limited to flying a flag and to worshipping at their mosques.
Palestinians believe that Sharon intended to provoke a cycle of violence that has besieged Palestine, providing a pretext for other Israeli violations of international law that include invading areas of Palestine that are presently under Palestinian authority, assassinations and kidnappings of Palestinian activists, and a continuation of other brutal acts such as torture and the killing of people unarmed and not in combat.
Following the attacks on the United States September 11, Israel began its most aggressive campaign to date against the Palestinian people, hoping to capitalize on America’s war against “terrorism,” while hiding their true agenda under camouflaged rhetoric that sought to characterize all Muslims and Arabs as terrorists and thereby deserving elimination. Israel even sought to characterize itself as America’s ally in the campaign against terrorism, offering the blood of dead Palestinians as proof of its lifelong commitment and urged the U.S. to attack other Arab countries, such as Iraq, Syria, the Sudan, Somalia, and Libya.
It is difficult to imagine that those who set the booby traps were not aware of the fact that anyone, any living thing, would have been killed by the trap. This makes it pretty clear that the objective was not only to protect the settlements, but also to kill Palestinians. It seemed much like the way people illegally hunt. Set a trap, and celebrate the killing of prey. There will likely be no arrests, no trials, and no punishment. The world should perhaps be alerted by this single act, if no other, to the nature of Sharon’s leadership and his pretense regarding peace. No one who is sincerely interested in making peace approaches peace with booby traps (land mines) in civilian areas.
Securing illegal Israeli settlements is done not only through theft of Palestinian land, but at risk to livelihood and life of Palestinians. Except for the United States and English, the world condemns Israel for such and other policies, all in violation of UN resolutions and international law. While the United States asserts Israel’s right to security, we have seen little concern, if any, for Palestinian rights to exist and to be secure in a land free from illegal settlers and their extravagant needs not only for security, but also for water and other necessities which are taken from Palestinians. Considering all of these facts, how can we reasonably put trust in any Israeli agreement, especially given that so many have been violated and none consummated?
Sharon has a history of statements which he has never recanted directed at killing or removing all Arabs. Perhaps the world does not care that millions of Palestinians have been sacrificed as Zionists have pursued their dream of a Jewish-only state, most of whom are Ashkinaze and bear no relationship to the people of the Bible. But perhaps they do care that unrelenting Israeli aggression; along with Israel’s unwillingness to sincerely seek peace, also threatens the lives of their own. The international war against terrorism may take an unforeseen turn, and Israel itself may someday become subject to the world’s angst, and weariness with violence, arrogance, and total disregard for the law. One cannot imagine what it will take for this to happen, but for most people the deaths of these young children out at play will be enough, and Israel will be called upon to make peace, abide by its agreements, and submit to the instruction of international law and moral principal. The ultimatum should be to come into accord with the above noted demands, or find itself among the rogue states that have been singled out for slow deaths due to starvation, and isolation. This is the prescription as it was written by Zionists for the Muslim states that refused to bow to Zionists dictates disguised as U.S. foreign policies, a refusal to make peace, end the occupation, and enter negotiations aimed towards the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, should cause Israel to suffer this same fate.
Dr. Ahmed Yousef is Director of United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) and Editor-in-Chief, Middle East Affairs Journal.